Almost everyone I know wants to save more money. Make saving into a game to make the process a whole lot easier and more fun.
Here’s how to play the money game.
Calculate your money game number. Add up what you estimate your variable spending will be each week, on average. This can include dining out, drinks, Lyfts, groceries, shopping, etc - everything you do on a weekly basis that’s variable*. Add up these expenses to estimate an average weekly total for your variable spending. This number becomes your ‘money game number.’ For this example, let’s say we add up taxis, dining out, and entertainment and get $250, then our money game number is $250.
Find your motivation. Any amount you spend under your money game number will be put towards a goal (or a couple of goals). It’s important to decide this ahead of time so you know what your motivation for the money game is. It can be anything - you can put the extra money towards a rainy day fund, towards paying off a credit card, towards a vacation, or towards something fun you’ve been wanting to buy (or even a combination of two things!).
Track your spending. Track those variable spending categories for the week (whatever you decided is part of your money game). You can start on any day of the week, but most people prefer to start on Monday and do their check-in on Sunday nights.
Save your winnings! At the end of the week, calculate your total spent and subtract it from your money game number. In our example, any amount we spend under $250 goes towards our goal. So, if we only spend $200 during the week, we have $50 to put toward our goal.
Put that money towards your decided goal immediately before something comes up.
Why it works. Playing the money game works for a number of reasons. 1) We become very conscious of where our money is going. When we’re aware, we make more intentional decisions. 2) Games are fun! We can get competitive and we can win. 3) Since we’re putting the leftover money towards something specific, we’re really connected to our motivation. This is important for achieving our goals.
Something extra. You can also ask a money buddy (partner or friend) to join you in the money game. The extra accountability helps and makes it more fun. If it’s someone you spend a lot of time with or make decisions with, even better!.
*Variable expenses are expenses that can change depending on your use of products or services, and they can sometimes be unpredictable. Unlike fixed expenses (ie. rent), variable expenses can change significantly from week to week or month to month.